Edited Churchill Release – Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go, the top-rated horse for this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade I), headlines a compact field of six accomplished older horses that entered Saturday’s $400,000 Lukas Classic (GIII) at Churchill Downs – the marquee race on closing weekend of the September Meet.
The Lukas Classic, which could serve as a final prep prior to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6 at Del Mar, was carded as the eighth race on Saturday’s 11-race program. First post is 12:45 p.m. (all times Eastern) and the Lukas Classic will go at 4:22 p.m. Named after Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, the 1 1/8-mile race shares the Saturday spotlight with the $300,000 Ack Ack (GIII), which goes as Race 10 at 5:26 p.m.
Trained by Brad Cox, Knicks Go won last year’s $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) to close his 4-year-old campaign. The now 5-year-old son of Paynter started the year with a 2 ¾-length victory in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup (GI) at Gulfstream Park and will enter the Lukas Classic following his dominating 4 ½-length score in the $1 million Whitney (GI) at Saratoga.
Knicks Go has competed four times at Churchill Downs but has yet to record a win beneath the historic Twin Spires. The speedy Maryland-bred’s career record is comprised of 22 starts with eight wins, three seconds and one third with purse earnings of $5,368,995. Jockey Joel Rosario, who has ridden Knicks Go in his last eight starts, will have the call Saturday from post No. 2.
Chief among Knicks Go’s competition in the Lukas Classic is multiple Grade II winner Tacitus. The Juddmonte homebred is scheduled to make his first start since his seventh-place effort in the $20 million Saudi Cup (GI) on Feb. 20. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 5-year-old son of Tapit has recorded graded stakes triumphs in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII), Wood Memorial (GII) and Suburban (GII). New York-based jockey Jose Lezcano will travel to Churchill Downs Saturday for the mount from post 3.
Also entered is Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider’s $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Cup (GIII) winner Sprawl. Trained by Tommy Drury Jr., Sprawl gamely prevailed by 1 ¾ lengths in the Aug. 7 West Virginia Governor’s Cup under jockey Joe Talamo. The chestnut colt by City Zip will have Talamo in the irons for Saturday’s affair from post 6.
The complete field for the Lukas Classic from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): New Orleans Classic (GII) winner Chess Chief (James Graham, Dallas Stewart); Knicks Go (Rosario, Cox); Tacitus (Lezcano, Mott); multiple stakes winner Shared Sense (Brian Hernandez Jr., Cox); Pegasus World Cup third Independence Hall (Javier Castellano, Michael McCarthy); and Sprawl (Talamo, Drury).
Action from Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs is also scheduled to air from 12:30-6:30 p.m. on Fox Sports 2 as part of “America’s Day at the Races.”
Wagering is available on www.TwinSpires.com, the official ADW of Churchill Downs Incorporated and its family of racetracks.
The final Twilight Thursday presented by Blue Moon of the calendar year will kick off closing week of the September Meet. Thursday’s eight-race card has a first post of 5 p.m. and features $1 Blue Moon and select domestic beer, local food trucks and live music from Roadie. Racing on Friday-Sunday will have a first post of 12:45 p.m. Tickets and more information for racing this week can be found at www.ChurchillDowns.com/tickets.
UNDEFEATED BEAU LIAM SEARCHES FOR FIRST GRADED STAKES SCORE IN ACK ACK – Stonestreet Stables’ undefeated homebred colt Beau Liam will attempt to notch his fourth-consecutive win against 10 rivals that entered Saturday’s 29th running of the $300,000 Ack Ack (Grade III) at Churchill Downs.
The one-mile Ack Ack, which serves as a prep for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (GI) at Del Mar on Nov. 6, was carded as Race 10 with a post time of 5:26 p.m. First post is 12:45 p.m. The Ack Ack is part of a stakes doubleheader Saturday along with the $400,000 Lukas Classic (GIII) headlined by the nation’s top older horse Knicks Go.
Beau Liam began his career May 29 at Churchill Downs where he cruised to a maiden-breaking win by 7 ½ lengths in the six furlong dash. The son of Liam’s Map shipped north to Saratoga where he narrowly defeated first-level allowance company by a scant nose in a swift seven furlongs on July 17. Most recently, the bay colt easily defeated second-level allowance foes by six lengths in a second-level allowance at Saratoga. Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, Beau Liam will be ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr. from post No. 10.
Among Beau Liam’s competition that entered the Ack Ack are several well-traveled graded stakes winners including Guest Suite, Mo Mosa, Mr Dumas, Plainsman, and Rushie.
The Ack Ack field from the rail out (with jockey and trainer): Exculpatory (Carol Cedeno, Mark Reid); Mo Mosa (Jose Lezcano, Mike Maker); Guest Suite (Emmanuel Esquivel, Cipriano Contreras); Ebben (Francisco Arrieta, Steve Margolis); Mr Dumas (Reylu Gutierrez, John Ortiz); Aloha West (Corey Lanerie, Wayne Catalano); Plainsman (Joel Rosario, Brad Cox); Atoka (Rafael Bejarano, D. Wayne Lukas); South Bend (James Graham, Bill Mott); Beau Liam (Hernandez, Asmussen); and Rushie (Javier Castellano, Michael McCarthy).
The Ack Ack is named in honor of the 1971 Horse of the Year, Ack Ack. The multiple champion sprinter won the 1969 Derby Trial when he covered one-mile in 1:34.40, which broke the track record at that time